Saturday 25 February 2017

Sewing and ironing.

Today I had planned a sewing day but I have an ironing mountain of Everest proportions so I needed to get it under control. What? You think I ditched the sewing in favour of the ironing? Not a chance. I had intended to put the lining in my green jacket but then I spied the box with my Mariner's Compass quilt and changed my mind. The last time I worked on this quilt I completed the centre panel.

Today I wanted to add up to the first border. A happy time was spent cutting and sewing and a while later I had 4 pieces that looked like this.

The pieces all look neat on the back

The pieces were than sewn onto the central square. This was a fun experience because those triangles are 30 inches across the long edge and stitching on the bias is always a little challenging. Finally it was done and I'm pleased with the result.

Every time I tried to take a photo Scamp plonked himself on the top so he could be in the photo. He wasn't at all concerned that I wanted the top all neatly laid out. He has been most helpful all day when I've been muttering about the sizes of the strips I needed to cut and as I cut the 45 degree angles. As I pressed each seam he demanded a scratch behind his ears before I could stitch the next seams, he insisted it was to make sure I didn't tire myself out. Anyway he has signed the top off as up to required quality so far. I'll do the first border when next I work on this.

The good news is that not only have I got on with my quilt top I have also ironed some shirts,

and a small pile of T shirts and pillow cases.

For each seam I sewed I ironed 1 item. That helped reduce the ironing mountain a little. I'll do some more tomorrow.

Tonight I'm watching Kingsman and doing some knitting. Scamp is already curled up comfortably on my lap and Picasso is asleep on the back of my chair. We've had a very tasty take away curry and all's well with the world (if you exclude politics etc etc).


Friday 24 February 2017

The wind's a blowing and I'm happily sewing.

Yesterday in London we were hit by high winds as storm Doris battered parts of the UK. I was teaching in Reading yesterday and since high winds were predicted I travelled by train rather than driving. I was very relieved on the journey home that we weren't held up by fallen trees. The train was travelling a lot slower than normal so the journey took longer but we arrived safely. Once home I listened to the wind outside and the gusts rattling our windows before I turned the TV on to cover the noise and set about doing some stitching. I needed to finish the binding on the 'It's a dog's life' quilt so I got on with that first.

I'm really pleased with this finish. I enjoyed doing the stitching for the blocks and it is a really cute quilt. Once my sewing cum work room is finished this will hang on the wall. Before then of course I need to add a hanging sleeve to the quilt and a label.

Next I did a little more work on my knitting. I'm hoping to finish the first sleeve up to the start of the arm hole by the end of the weekend. I'm not taking another picture of my progress as it looks the same but longer.

Today was a day off but I needed to do some work for work. I hadn't checked my work emails since Monday and so I had dozens to deal with and then I had some marking to do so the day flew by. When John got home we took Scamp for a walk over the common. Following the storm of yesterday the temperature had dropped so it was back to wearing my duffel coat and hat but at least the sun was shining weakly. I still have more marking to do but tomorrow I'm going to take the day off and make some blocks and work on my green jacket. I want to celebrate the start oof Spring by wearing this jacket.

I have the lining and the buttons so this should be a quick finish for next week. I really do need to get some of my older projects finished so I can start some new ones.

So I'm celebrating my Friday finish by linking up with Amanda Jean for Finish it up Friday  I'm also hoping to have some other things to show you tomorrow. For now I need to snuggle in bed as the excitement of a finish has quite worn me out.


Sunday 19 February 2017

A bit of an odd week.

This last week has been a little 'odd'. Odd in that it's been almost normal but with a slight shift. I went into work for two days and worked from home on my third day so from a work point of view it was fairly standard. It was half term so we didn't have Rainbows, Brownies and Guides which was a nice rest. We walked the dog over the common, twice in beautiful early Spring sunshine that warmed us as we walked but the 'odd' was ever present. The odd was a niggling worry as I monitored how I felt and watched for side effects and signs of infection. Odd because I couldn't settle to do anything in my down time and so I didn't really move any of my projects forward but mostly odd because I didn't feel how everyone told me I would feel. So this weekend it stopped being odd as I stopped waiting for things to happen and just got on with my life.

Yesterday Kathryn, Lucy and I headed for Kingston upon Thames for a girls shopping trip. We haven't had one in ages so this one had to include morning coffee, lunch and shopping. We didn't buy much in the end but had a good look round the shops and enjoyed lunch at Wagamama's. I finally got some lining that I liked for my green jacket having decided the one I'd ordered wasn't right. I also chose the buttons so later this week I can hopefully get it finished. After our trip we headed home to cook dinner and to enjoy a very lively family evening.

I wanted to get at least 4 blocks made for my Austen Family Album quilt but I only completed 1 however I was really pleased with how the frame around the central block worked. I made a very similar block a couple of years back and found it very difficult  but I've learnt a lot since then and this went together easily. I did however have to undo the seam on the bottom right as the points of the star weren't matching up. You can see how off it is (the 3 o clock position) This is now dealt with and matches perfectly - thank goodness for the unpicking tool.

Today I've been doing a little slow knitting on a sleeve for John's jumper. The wool for this is beautiful to knit with and is just so soft. 

The front and back of the jumper are in stocking stitch but you can just see in the middle of this picture that in the middle of the sleeve there is a section of knit 2 purl 2 rib that continues all the way up the sleeve from the ribbing. I should have this sleeve finished this week.

I've had a lot of marking to get done so I haven't had time to do any work on Charlotte this week or to finish stitching the binding onto the 'It's a dog's life' quilt but it is almost finished.

Work on the house has moved forward in leaps and bounds this week. John has been laying the bamboo flooring in the dining room, living room and hallway. This is all done but he is still finishing off the edging. It looks so good. We got quotes this week for our windows and we have now decided on a company and placed an order. The windows will all be individually made and will take several weeks to do. It's all very exciting and I'm looking forward to it being completed. By the time it is all done it will be two and a half years since we started. I'm looking forward to being able to show you what we've done.

I'm linking this post with Kathy's  Slow stitching Sunday Dopop over and check out what everyone has been up to.


Sunday 12 February 2017

Making blocks

It's been a very quiet week on the stitching front as I had work and more tests but this weekend I have been resting and so had time to get my machine out during the day and make some blocks and do some knitting and slow stitching during the evening.

I started the Austen Family Album quilt run as a block of the week by Barbara Brackman back in 2014. There are 36 blocks in all and I made several as it was running but can only currently find blocks 1 and 2. This isn't a problem as I know which blocks I made and they were later in the run so yesterday I started on block 3 and created 5 blocks

These are big blocks finishing at 12 inches. Making them was an interesting experience as my brain is a little woolly at the moment and I kept forgetting which fabric I had planned for which bit of the block. Still I managed it all without making a mistake. Next week I'm only working Monday and Friday so I'll have some more sewing time.

On the knitting front I'm working on the sleeve of John's jumper. I need to do both sleeves up to armhole level and then they are added to the body on the circular needles. I've never done that before so I'm interested in how it will work. It will probably take me ages to fathom out the pattern in my current woolly state, but I like a challenge.

I made a start on Charlotte, the second bag lady. The pattern instructions tell you to work all the stem or back stitch first and them do the fancy bits but I find that a bit boring so last night I started on the embroidery on her skirt. I'll finish this once I've published this post. I will be adding a yellow french knot to the centre of each flower.

I've also been working on the binding on the 'it's a dog's life' quilt. I rounded the second corner but it isn't going very fast as when I start stitching on it I fall asleep. Something I really need to concentrate on works best at the moment.

At the start of the posts I said I had more tests this week. Because I am allergic to iodine they couldn't use this medium when I had the CT scan so they weren't happy with the results. On Tuesday I had a PET scan and they showed everything was normal and OK so I started my treatment on Friday. Lucy came with me and we spent the time gossiping and giggling. I'm using a cold cap which helps to slow or prevent hair loss. Lucy took a picture on her phone and when she emails it to me I'll post it for you to have a giggle over. It pulses the cold over your scalp and at its coldest is like brain freeze when eating ice cream. The treatment has made me quite tired but I'm a tough old bird so should be able to deal with it. Today we took Scamp for his walk around the common which is nearly 4 and a half miles without a problem. John was aware that if I got tired he'd have to go home and collect the car! I'm hoping to be OK for work tomorrow even if I only stay for a half day. 

I'm linking this post with Kathy for Slow Sunday Stitching, why not pop over and see what everyone has been busy working on. For me I'm off for a short nap before I do some more stitching on Charlotte.


Monday 6 February 2017

An exhibition and slow stitching.

On Saturday John and I had tickets to the  'Opus Angelicanum' exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. This was an exhibition of medieval English embroidery. As often happens with us we managed to visit the exhibition the day before it finished. We keep trying to be more organised but haven't managed it yet. The museum itself was crowded out with it's visitors inside at its capacity and so there was a long queue of people waiting to enter. As we had tickets we could go straight in (already accounted for in the numbers). The exhibition was hot and the lighting dim at times to protect the 12th and 13th century embroidery. Most of the work was ecclesiastical as that's what has survived over the years. No photography was allowed and there were only a couple of postcards, the museum having sold out of what they created for the exhibition, so I have used an image from the V and A website.

Syon Cope. From the V and A collection of Textiles and Fashion. England

The embroidered is worked with silver gilt and silver thread in underside couching  and using split, cross and plait stitches and laid and couched work. The brown background  was original red and green silk thread. I chose this image as it dates back to a Bridgettine convent at Syon in Middlesex and my Guide units meet in the church hall of the church opposite the gates to Syon Park, the site of the abbey church of the convent. You can read more about the history here The exhibition was extremely interesting and I'm very pleased I went to see it. The work is very intricate but using just the same stitches we use today without the aid of our magnifying daylight lights. I certainly haven't got the eyesight to do this quality of work.

After the exhibition we met up with older daughter Kathryn for afternoon teas. The cafe in the museum is beautiful and they do a delicious cream tea with enormous scones and clotted cream..mmmmmm. Looking up as you go into the main seating area this is what you see.

We sat in the Dutch room and the walls were decorated with panelling and tiles. This shows Autumn which was immediately opposite our table but all four seasons were represented and all twelve months

Beneath these panels were blue tiles showing different scenes to match the panel above them. This appears slightly blurry but is more about the amount of pattern detail.

As we left the cafe it was getting dark and so I turned and took a photo of the exterior of this part of the museum. I love the reflection in the shallow pool in front of the building. In the summer there are tables out in this square and children and some adults (me and my daughters) paddle in the pool.


We left the museum at closing time so the streets were very crowded and we didn't fancy the idea of getting onto a crowded tube so we walked to Vauxhall bridge and caught the tube there. It was a very pleasant evening and gave us the opportunity to catch up with the gossip.

Yesterday was about slow stitching. We are finally laying the flooring in the main areas downstairs and I can't currently access my sewing machines so I pulled out Charlotte, bag lady number 2. I haven't completed Ernestine but this is a stitch along so I'm going to start a new lady each month. If I finish the lady of the month then I'll go back and complete whatever's left to do on a lady from an earlier month ..simples. I've started the outline of her top but haven't got very far yet.


I also need to invest in some new embroidery floss as I'm out of quite a lot of colours including black. Oh shame I need a trip to a sewing store. 

I also did some stitching on the binding of the dog quilt. I've only gone round 1 corner so far but at least it's a start. I'm pleased I went with the white swirly fabric for the binding.

This morning I had to go for a scan with possible biopsy of the lymph nodes in my neck as they thought they looked a little enlarged but the scan showed they were perfectly normal and health, so no biopsy needed and I should be able to start treatment on Friday. This evening I am having my hair cut shorter, roughly jaw level, by one of Kathryn's friends from school who is a trained hairdresser and very good at her job. I'm taking wine and Olly is cooking so it will be a fun time but I do love my long hair. The rest of the day I have housework to do and I must do some grocery shopping as the cupboards and fridge are bare!

I'm linking with Kathy for Slow stitching Sunday Go and see the great slow stitching folks have been working on this week.